The face of an author

Are you sitting down? Alright. Take a deep breath. I have to admit something.
I have bright purple hair. Like, proper bright purple.
I know. Shocking. It’s okay.

I’ve been rather consistently dyeing my hair for the better part of the last five years, usually leaning into the bright purple territory, with occasional deviations into autumnal red and orange combinations, blonde with hot pink, and the odd mix of those if I’m feeling feisty. This suits me just fine, and almost everyone who interacts with me on a very regular basis has commented at one time or another that I wouldn’t seem like “me” without the purple hair. When I’ve left my hair to its natural proclivities (a dark brown), plenty of folks have expressed that I was “back to normal” when I finally re-dyed to, yes, purple.

Needless to say, I have no problems with being myself. And yet…

In a week, I am scheduled to have nice professional portraits taken to use in all official authorly situations. Facebook and Twitter currently display one of my wedding photos, which, I will add, was before I cut off my three feet of natural brown hair. While I do love that photo, it doesn’t represent an accurate “me”, at least as far as current appearance goes. My short hair is just growing out of another pixie cut which is really bright purple.

Again, I’m very comfortable with myself. I’m certain you’ve all figured that one out by now! But the buffer between online-me, and offline-me is about to be blurred further. Of all people, I am well aware of what the instant visual judgement of a person can be like. That’s not to say anyone’s ever been particularly rude or mean about my hair colour, but some people need time to get used to it – and will they take that time to get to know me if it’s through an online medium when they see my photo? It’s all very fast. Click, click, click. Eyes dart to the photo, run over one sentence descriptions, make an assessment of this person in less time than it takes to have another sip of coffee.

What does the real me, the offline-me with purple hair, end up meaning to these nice folks online? I’m curious if offline-me and author-me can occupy the same space, or if they are better off having distinct portrayals. Either way, I have a week to decide if I need to freshen the purple, go over the colour with something more natural, or head straight for black and white photographs and invalidate this consideration entirely.

~A

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19 thoughts on “The face of an author

  1. I love that you have purple hair!! I love that you might look entirely different than I thought you might, too — it’s so true that we all have online personas that are possibly quite different than who we are in real life… still, I know what you mean about the snap judgments because I worry about that too (for other than hair color…). I say freshen the purple or (if you just don’t want to go there) then have the photographer use photoshop to color it something “more natural” then you can have the best of both worlds. 🙂

  2. Personally, I think in this day and age, any reader, writer, or human worth their salt, will not have an altered opinion of you based on your hair colour alone. If they do, do you want that kind of audience, anyway? Just throwing all these identity questions back your way 😉

    If it bothers you that much, I’d go black and white photo… but the truth has a way of coming out eventually, darling 🙂

    1. I don’t think anyone who already knows me would think any different, but I do wonder if it could turn a prospective friend/fan from some kind of weird preconceived notion! Besides, no one ever said I avoid attention, eh? 😉

      ~A

  3. I’m friends with three lovely young women on Twitter who have red and pink hair — like solid, vibrant red/pink. I never hesitated on them for a moment due to that, and I wouldn’t have hesitated on you for having purple. In our industry, especially, which is more creative and less corporate, “alternative” styles like purple hair are pretty widely accepted. Plus, bright hair is more memorable anyway. I say be true to yourself!

    1. Being an artist does have its benefits, not least that people often expect us to be a different kind of person. Having bright coloured hair is no exception to that rule, I guess! 🙂

      ~A

  4. Your concern is understandable, since people tend toward instant judgement, as you say. But I don’t believe you should change yourself. Maybe just go with the black and white photo.

    It’s a cruel fact that people judge so instantly. I occasionally come up against this one too, but I think we should hang on to our uniqueness where ever possible. Yes, you may lose some ultra conservative people, but no one can be you like you can. Black and white might be the middle ground that allows you to remain uneffected by judgements. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your input, Cynthia! I already intended on black and white for inside the books themselves, but it would definitely be fun and “me” to just have my bright hair where I use the photo shoot online. It’s like a happy medium, then I just stop over-thinking this, perhaps? 😉

      ~A

  5. It makes sense to use black & white photos to deal with the people who see the world that way.
    But as I’ve told you many many times before: You. Gotta. Have. Purple. Hair. 🙂

    1. Aww, thanks, Al! You’re definitely up there in the list of people who think my “normal” is the purple. 🙂 And I like your point of view, black and white pictures for a boring old black and white world?

      ~A

  6. Stay purple! If people don’t like it, or want to judge you by your appearance then stuff ’em (I had another word in mind, but went with the cleaner option). And go full colour for your photo, too.
    As an author, it’s not about how you look but the words on the page. I dye my hair all shades of red because *I* like it, what other people think is on them, not me (don’t get me started on tattoos!)

    1. Haha, thank you, Amanda! My purple is ALL because I like it, and it makes ME happy. It’s hard for some people to understand such a simple concept! Sometimes I turn around and ask them why they wear their favourite clothes if they get to questioning my hair colour choices. 😉

      ~A

  7. What Katy says. Who is your audience? Because those people will love the fact you color your hair and no doubt pull it off! Some people are prone to snap judgments, but it seems to me that a friendly smile with purple hair would only draw people in and make them want to know you.

    Your wedding photo is lovely by the way.

    1. Thank you, Nina! I have wondered that, too, if having something so obviously “different” would actually be to my benefit! Make the viewer curious about that strange girl with the purple hair, eh? 😉

      ~A

  8. Ooh, I can’t wait to see the picture(s)! Funny, I can imagine you to look like *you* either way, no matter the color. Your writing voice is so colorful yet polished… either image/hair color would fit you. How’s that for a non-opinion? LOL

    My 14 yr old daughter was just marveling over Stephanie Perkins (the author of Anna and the French Kiss) having stripes of blue hair on her book jacket pic. She was all like, “I didn’t know you could do that when you’re a professional author.” LOL I think, if you’re still on the fence, the black and white option is a good solution. Plus black and white pics are awesome! Let us know how it turns out.

    1. Aww, thank you, Barb! Those are honestly lovely non-opinions. 😀

      I just looked up Stephanie Perkins, and her hair is GORGEOUS and actually very similar to something I was considering (obviously with purple rather than blue). You know, your daughter’s comment touches an issue that’s played on my mind: I’m not a reserved, business-jacket kind of person. The fact that professional authors all have the “professional author look” just doesn’t fit me. (oh, terrible non-conformity XD). I like the idea of proving professional authors can be awesome and colourful as well. 😉

      ~A

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